This week, I’ve decided to share the five areas of my life that have been most effected by my chronic pain and whether I’m dealing with them. This actually come from that old joke that says, “The old man looked at his grandson and said, ‘I’m old enough to know only two things for certain. There is a God, and I’m not Him.’” I have found blessings in my pain, but that doesn’t mean I’ve got it made; I still battle certain issues.
To start off with, I want to discuss the loss of my manhood. Now, my disability is a low back problem and not some kind of castration mind you; but not being able to do those manly things still bothers me. I have come to believe that when God really wants our attention, he strikes us where we keep our reserves. For me, I could always rely on my body. I loved being physical, I used to go to karate class two to three nights a week and Saturday mornings days before I became injured. As a younger man, I would go rappelling, white water rafting, scuba diving, and thoroughly enjoyed a number of different ways of working out. I remember how I used to be the jungle Jim climbing apparatus, first for our eldest, and then for our second daughter. I could flip them around, toss them up, and let them climb all over me. I was excited at all the things we would be able to do when they became older. My wife loves the beach and I love the mountains, and the girls would be able to enjoy both. As long as Stef and I earned a living, the girls could enjoy going places with us. In truth, I did spend a period of time not working, that was when our first daughter was born. I had gone from the medical field to working in restaurants and wasn’t making as much as Stefanie was, and she was travelling most of the time. I stayed home for just under two years, but I always knew I could go back to work, and I did.
Now, however, I can’t go out for a job even though I want to. Those people that do not have chronic pain like we do may say, “So, you can still do something! You write a blog, have some mental faculties left, what’s the problem?” The problem is I take medicine for this chromic pain and I can’t always say it’s working. I still can’t sit for more than twenty minutes, and can only stand for a short amount of time without doing more damage and increasing my pain and the numbness in my legs. What do I do then? I have lost the ability to do; to provide, to fight, to lift, to fix, to push, to dance, to run (okay, I hated running and didn’t do much of that since I left the Army!), to be a man in my own eyes. There’s the rub in all this, though. I am no longer a man in my own eyes because of what I can’t do. In many ways, I need to learn to equate this with being a Christian. In Christianity, it is not what we can do for our own salvation, but what Christ has done for us. As long as you can accept that Jesus died for your sins, repent of what you have done, and ask Jesus into your heart, then God accepts you as His own. It should be the same for my own manhood. If my wife and daughters can accept me for who I am, and not for what I can or cannot do, then I should accept it as well. After more than six years, I still have a problem with this. I can go along for a while, but then I see my wife putting in long hours at the office, or my oldest working on a dance or even when she was learning how to drive, or my youngest working on her gymnastics; all I can do is sit on the sideline and watch. It makes me hurt, frustrated, angry, and bitter. I may try and help in some way, but it usually doesn’t work out well. It won’t until I accept my current position and learn to support them by my words and prayer. I have a feeling this will be a lesson I struggle with for a long time to come. How about you? Do you struggle with not being able to do? Does your disability end what had been large parts of your life? I hope that this week we enter into some discussion, as last week was a more informative posting, not as much for discussion.